Prime Minister Andrej Babiš remains the true owner of the Agrofert
conglomerate that he founded, despite having placed it in a trust,
according to a legal study commissioned by the opposition Pirate Party.
The new study, which has been sent to the European Commission, confirms earlier findings by the EU executive arm and the Czech branch of watchdog Transparency International, that Mr Babiš has violated EU laws on conflicts of interest.
As a prime minister, he can influence the scope and distribution of EU subsidies that benefit Agrofert, of which he is the ultimate beneficiary, the various findings argue.
The European Parliament voted in December to suspend subsidies to Agrofert until the matter is cleared up.
Mr. Babiš is facing criminal charges in the Czech Republic of EU subsidy fraud over CZK 50 million received by a hotel and conference centre near Prague that previously belonged to Agrofert. He denies any wrongdoing.
A Communist proposal to tax churches on monies they received in line with a
property restitution law enacted six years ago should come into effect on 1
January 2021 at the earliest.
This is the recommendation of the lower house of parliament’s Budget Committee, based on an amendment put forth by opposition MP Marek Benda (Civic Democrats), following a second reading.
The move also has the support of the ministries of finance and culture.
The Budget Committee voted against support for a proposal raised by another opposition MP, Dominik Feri (TOP 09), to reject the proposed tax outright.
Opponents of the Communist proposal argue that it is unconstitutional. However, the parties in the coalition government, ANO and the Social Democrats, have backed the proposal to tax restitution money paid in compensation for church property confiscated by the Communist regime.
The lower house could approve the draft at its next meeting due to begin on 22 January.
More than 1,100 people have signed an online petition launched by Charles
University students protesting plans by far-right and neo-Nazi groups to
use the name and likeness of Jan Palach at an upcoming concert in in
Palach, who studied at Charles University, died in January 1969 several days after having setting himself alight in Prague in protest at Czech apathy in the face of the ongoing Soviet occupation.
The online petition also calls for local Italian authorities to distance themselves from any support for the action to be held in Verona on 19 January, the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of Jan Palach.
The concert in Verona is to be held under the motto “Country and Freedom”.
The Italian newspaper La Republicca reported in December that certain ultra-right groups have long appropriated Palach’s legacy both “politically and culturally”.
The Czech Republic had by the end last year received about 25 percent of
the total 582.9 billion crowns in European Union funds allocated to the
country for the 2014-2020 programme period.
This is according to the Regional Development Ministry, which is responsible for the absorption of EU funds.
The ministry said all 10 operational programmes fulfilled the set conditions and thus the country does not have to return any money, which amounts to 145.6 billion crowns.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic rose from 2.8 percent in November to 3.1
percent in December, according to official figures released on Wednesday.
The increase followed a four-month period of stagnation.
However, December’s unemployment rate was still lower than the same time the previous year, when it stood at 3.8 percent.
The total number of people out of work last month was the lowest for December since 1996. The vacant jobs figure was up both month-on-month and year-on-year.
The Slovak president, Andrej Kiska, has bestowed a high state honour in
memoriam on Dagmar Burešová, a Czech lawyer who represented the family of
Jan Palach following his death. Mr. Kiska did so during a ceremony on
Tuesday evening linked to the recent anniversary of the foundation of the
Dagmar Burešová, who died last year at the age of 88, defended a number of dissidents during the communist period and was the first Czechoslovak minister of justice after the Velvet Revolution.
Alongside a number of significant Slovaks Mr. Kiska also honoured the well-known Czech actor Josef Abrhám.
A new permanent exhibition in honour of Jan Palach in the house where he
grew up in Všetaty, Central Bohemia will open on August 21, a spokesperson
for operators the National Museum told iDnes.cz. Palach died after setting
himself alight in Prague on 16 January 1969 in protest at apathy in the
face of the Soviet occupation.
In connection with next week’s 50th anniversary of the then student’s act, memorial tiles are to be unveiled at spots in the courtyard of Charles University where his coffin stood in 1969.
There will also be an outdoor exhibition commemorating Palach’s self-sacrifice at the top of Prague’s Wenceslas Square, where he set himself on fire. Other events are also taking place in connection with the anniversary.
Year-on-year growth in industrial output in the Czech Republic slowed to
4.8 percent in November, according to official data released on Tuesday. In
October growth had reached 6.7 percent. However, taking into account
seasonal factors, industrial output actually rose by 0.9 percent.
The main driver of growth remained motor vehicle production, which went up by 10.2 percent. By contrast construction stagnated in the 11th month of 2018 following growth of 10.4 percent in October.
One-quarter of the players in Czech football’s top division are
foreigners, iRozhlas.cz reported on Tuesday. Of the 354 players who made
appearances in the autumn part of the season, 90 were not from the Czech
Republic, the news site said.
While Slovaks, as is traditional, account for a large number of them, footballers from Eastern European and African states are also making their mark. Foreigners have been the top scorers at half of the top flight’s 16 clubs so far this season.